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  • Writer's pictureHighline Steel Systems


Updated: May 12, 2018

Fresh news stories around tariffs on imported steel are echoing throughout the economy and causing some uncertainty for many companies, particularly in the construction sector. That is since tariffs, which are basically taxes put on imported products, that in turn get passed-on to people and businesses who buy them, and as a result raises prices... So what then do those of us who build metal buildings and steel construction do? The quick answer is, we work to recognize where why this is happening and then take suitable actions to guard against rising prices and market volatility.


Last year our United States Commerce Department activated an analysis into imported steel and aluminum, implementing Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. §1862). Through this law, our government is sanctioned to conduct wide-ranging investigations to decide the effects of importations of any commodity based on shielding the national-security of the U.S.A. Last year, they issued their report to the president, finding that the amounts and conditions of steel imports may be threatening to weaken the national security. The proposed worry seems to be that inexpensive imported steel is threatening the existence of U.S. steel mills, consequently decreasing the amount of U.S. providers that can service the D.O.D for military provisions, equipment, and other metal-requiring goods and services.

By means of this information as a basis, the leaders announced in March a 25% tariff on steel coming into the U.S. Consequently, a particular group of nations were recognized as appropriate to be exempt from these added taxes centered on an assortment of benchmarks. In view of that, the Department of Commerce declared an exclusion process for some steel tariffs with rules and processes for foreign corporations to follow in applying for relief from the new tariffs being enacted on their imports.


The construction trade overall, and particular trades such as metal building producers and erectors, are definitely impacted by variations or fluctuations in the cost of steel and other metals. The mills providing our raw /or finished materials for structural members, sheet-goods, metal plates, and so on, base their prices on market environments in order to stay profitable and sustainable. When inexpensive imported alternatives are obtainable, the U.S. mills feel pressure to reduce their prices just to stay competitive. With additional taxes in play, they become at liberty to increase their prices and still be competitive since, ostensibly, everybody is on equal footing. Nonetheless, the variety of product types, the impending exceptions of particular countries and not others, and the subsequent price unpredictability that is expected as a certainty, are all universal market-forces out of the hands of any particular construction firm.


Steel building producers have enduring relationships with steel mills and fabricators, for which the basis of pricing their products, services and packages are the prices they can negotiate with them. The costing for a particular building package happens when either a fabrication quote or an approval quote is invited. For a fabrication quote, the maker can usually hold a price quotation for a couple of weeks until it is accepted by the purchaser. At that moment they immediately work throughout the fab and transport process over the following several weeks. For an approval quote, the quotation is still remains good for a couple of weeks, but the buyer is permitted an extra couple of weeks for evaluation and revisions of drawings within the approximate 12 week fab and transport process. Given the present market unpredictability, it is extremely problematic for metal building manufacturers to secure pricing for periods any longer than this usual 3 month max process for whichever kind of order. Identifying this and focusing expediting the evaluation and approval progression can work to ensure that prices are “locked-in” and maintained. For longer-term jobs and public jobs that stretch beyond 12-14 weeks, some special considerations, phasing, or other changes will likely be necessary to preserve your budget.


Every job is not the same, of course, and will have differing mixes of metal building parts and modules, but it’s reasonable to say that the influence of metal pricing upsurges will openly move total-building costs, which producers have to pass on to buyers. Conversely, since the raw goods coming from mills do not account for the additional value-added facets that a company brings to the process, a 25% rise in raw steel goods might mean a 10%, 15%, or 20% increase in the entire finished package contingent on the combination of products detailed and involved. Nonetheless, a one-million dollar steel building could end up being $1.1 million to $1.2 million or perhaps more, without much warning at all.


Generally, the greatest means for metal building constructors and new building owners to stay ahead of the price unpredictability is to talk and work together with metal building makers... By establishing genuine anticipations of the time-frames and turnaround times required for a job, erectors, owners, and builders can all be superiorly protected from cost changes. By receiving the fabrication details and getting approvals as fast as possible; and by sticking to set timeframes, set prices are more likely to be secure and not subject to variations from further market fluctuations.

To explore ways to better work with steel building contractors so they can better serve you during this unpredictable period, contact Highline Steel Systems.

Content Copyright © 2000 - 2018 Highline Steel Systems, Inc.

About Highline: At Highline Steel Systems and, our goal is for our clients to be well-informed before partnering with us or participating in any of our firm’s services. We hope your experience will be better once you know who we are, have more realistic ideals and goals about working with us, as well as understand what we are focused on doing for you and our community. We are focused on providing the best possible services and products in and around structural steel supply & fabrication services, steel erection services, structural steel provision, pre-engineered metal buildings, architectural metals, ornamental metals, tilt-wall erection, steel management, building components, detailing & engineering, as well as estimating and everything that goes into making your steel building projects a reality. If you need any questions answered or any expert advice, please give us a call at (800) 317-5814 or email us at


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